Wednesday, 16 June 2021

Ballet ... Ballyhoo

 

Some years ago, when I worked in London, a friend gave me two tickets to the ballet at one of the theatres. He was well connected, and these were good seats. He could not go so he gave me the tickets.

I could have thrown them in the drawer and forgot all about them. I could always tell him I enjoyed the show. Or I could have given the tickets to that beggar I saw sitting on the ground on my way to the railway station. I gave him some money instead.

Rather stupidly, I mentioned the tickets when I got home. 

Big mistake.

Suddenly we all became artistic, sophisticated and modern and we should go to London and see the ballet. Up to then we were happy to be uneducated morons satisfied with football on TV and soap programs like Downton Abbey. But nooooo ... we now had to go to the ballet.

This meant we had to travel to London, it meant an overnight stay at a hotel, it meant having to eat at a fancy restaurant rather that have fish and chips behind the trash bins in an alleyway, it meant more expense like a lovely new dress and a nice suit for me. 

What a waste of time and money. And there was a good game on TV too.

To top it all, they did not have popcorn at the theatre. Can you imagine? Sitting there for hours in the dark with no popcorn, no fizzy drinks or any sweets or candies. What a stupid place is this?

They were showing something called Swan Lake. I believe it is based on a German fairy tale and the music is by Tchaikovsky. Definitely not as good as The Beatles or The Rolling Stones, I tell you.

I read the story in the brochure they gave us at the entrance. £5 per brochure, would you believe? The worst £5 I spent and not got any popcorn!

Swan lake is about a prince called Siedfried who falls in love with a Swan named Odette. What an idiot. Anyone could have told him this relationship is not going to last. A prince and a swan!

She is a swan by day, and a young woman at night. Hmmm ... I shall not comment.

She's under a magic spell that can only be broken by a man who promises to love her for ever. A bit like the kissing of a frog syndrome, I guess. 

Anyway, he promises to love her for ever and a day ... and night. But he is tricked by the magician who cast the spell. They both die and live happily ever after!

Not much of a plot, I thought. What was worse is that it was performed in the medium of dance.

There was this man in very tight trousers. We were sitting in the front row, and you did not need opera or ballet glasses to see the tightness of his trousers. What was all that about? I thought. Thankfully he did not sing, because I tell you it would have affected the timbre of his voice.

Then there was this woman, amongst other cast members. For some reason they all walked on tiptoe. I did not understand why. She ran at him. Threw herself in the air, And he caught her and lifted her up high.

If any woman did that to me I'd probably end up in hospital with a hernia.

This dancing about and music went on for ages. Which is a long time to go without a beer, or something to eat.

At the hotel room afterwards I pulled up my pyjama trousers up high and attempted to walk on tiptoes.

I was told I'm an ignorant jerk.

Tuesday, 15 June 2021

Do we need pointless inventions?

 

It's amazing about all this new and modern technology. Various manufacturers and inventors competing to create a new product that would excite the public and encourage them to buy it. Over the last twenty years or so we have seen the creation of various products which, I would hazard a guess, we never really needed; yet we bought them all the same.

The cell-phone for instance. I'll admit it is a great invention and it has helped many people in difficult situations when they had to phone for help, or to communicate something urgently. But did we really need a cell-phone with a camera? This gave rise to another new trend, or craze. The selfie. The sudden and urgent need to take a photo of oneself. Not just one photo. But millions in every pause, in every background and in every situation you can imagine. And to make matters easier, someone invented a long stick with which you can take a photo of yourself by placing the cell-phone at the end of it. 

Recently, I was the recipient, as a gift, of yet another new invention. It is a Swiss watch. It can keep accurate time to the nth of a millisecond. But, here's the clever bit, every hour, quarter past, half past and quarter to, the watch face opens and a little bird comes out and sings "Cuckoo! Cuckoo!"

At first I wore is as a gimmick, if only to please the person who gifted it to me. You know how it is. Sometimes you have to comply to make others happy. Like the day my wife bought me two ties for my birthday. We were going out to dinner, so to please her, I wore one of the ties. As soon as she saw me she said, "what's wrong with the other one?"

Anyway, I had this Swiss watch on on my way to work on the train. Opposite me sat a young lady. I really do get annoyed when people on trains and buses listen to music on earphones so loud. In order to be considerate, which I usually am, I took off the watch and put it in my trouser pocket. Every fifteen minutes the damn thing went, "Cuckoo! Cuckoo!" 

I noticed the young lady looking at my trousers and say nothing. I wanted to explain. But how do you do that without getting arrested? I got off at the next stop, even though I was miles away from my destination. The watch told me that I was precisely 1 hour and 17.53 minutes late.

Another new invention is a contraption you wear on your wrist and it tells you how much you have walked, in miles and in steps, how many calories you have used, your blood pressure and so on. I wore it for a few days and it told me that I don't move enough. Obvious really. Mine is a desk job. I walk to the station. Sit on the train. Walk to my office and stay there until it is time to go home. The only walking opportunity I have is walking up and down on the same step at home. I do about fifty walking up and down on the same step. Takes me ages to go to the toilet.

You get inventions to encourage you to take exercise and be active, like this wrist thing, treadmills, and other equipments; yet you have inventions which encourage you to do the opposite. Like the TV remote control for instance. It encourages you to remain seated and not move towards the TV to change channels.

By the way, does anyone know why when I point to my wife with the remote control she does not stop talking? 

And why does she need to vacuum clean when sports is on TV?

And why there is dust on the TV screen? I mentioned it the other day and I got the silent treatment. Better than a remote control, I think.

Are there any inventions you think we could do well without?

(NOTE: Humour only. No phones, ties, watches, remote controls, dust or wives have been harmed in the writing of this story. All characters and situations are fictitious and any similarities to persons, situations or inventions are purely coincidental.)

Monday, 14 June 2021

Anthropomorphism

 


Anthropomorphism is the attribution of human traits, emotions, and intentions to non-human entities such as animals or even objects. In most cases, there is nothing wrong with that. For example, Donald Duck is, strictly speaking, a duck; yet it has been dressed like a human, it talks and can do human things like drive a car or cook. It has been given the character of a human and behaves as such for the purpose of the cartoon story in which it, or he, appears.

By the way, have you noticed that normally Donald Duck wears a jacket and hat and nothing on his lower half; yet, when he comes out of the shower or bath he has a towel around his lower half. What's all that about? Certainly not a human characteristic. I certainly don't go around wearing nothing but a jacket!

Anyway, I digress.

As I was saying before I was interrupted by Donald Duck, certain people attribute human characteristics to non-human objects. For example, I was visiting a young couple the other day and as I was leaving them they said they were going to pick up their children from school with Sophie. I thought Sophie was their children's nanny. But they jumped in the car and as they were reversing out of their drive I asked, "Aren't you going to wait for Sophie?"

They laughed and said, "We are in Sophie! Sophie is John's car. My car over there (said the wife) is called Bernard. Our cars have a character of their own. Sophie is more gentle and welcoming!"

I smiled and said nothing.

How can a car be gentle and welcoming? Can it be temperamental and refuse to start on a cold morning because it wants to tease or upset you? Or is it perhaps because the battery is low and it will not start the engine?

I thought nothing of it until a few days ago when the subject arose again. I was in the pub with John, the young husband in this couple of which I speak, nursing a beer when I noticed he looked somewhat forlorn.

By the way, by nursing a beer I meant drinking slowly. I did not mean I was nursing it because it was ill and needed medical attention. It was just a figure of speech and I was in no way anthropomorphising the pint in my hand. I wish you would stop interrupting my train of thought.

I asked John what was the matter and he explained, "For a while now, after I wash up the dishes and dry them, I put them away in the cupboard in a stack on top of each other. If I have four plates in hand, and there are already two in the cupboard, I put the four plates underneath the two so that next time the two at the top would get a chance to be used. I don't want them to feel left out and unloved by not being used. So I raise them to the top of the pile so that they are used next. This also happens with saucers, cereal bowls, and cups. I move the old cups from the back of the shelf to the front, and put the newly cleaned ones at the back."

For a moment or two I said nothing as I caressed my beer glass pensively. Careful now, don't go interrupting me again!

I then asked, "What does your wife think of this?"

"That's the point," he said, "until recently she did not know anything about it. They say couples should not have any secrets from each other, but there I was, after three years of marriage hiding this from her!"

"It's not as if you were having an affair!" I said.

"The principle is the same," he replied, "until recently it was a secret I kept from her. Now she knows. But what is worse, is that apparently she has been doing the same all along. I caught her taking all the plates out of the cupboard and moving the ones at the top of the pile to the bottom. I asked her what she was doing and she confessed. She has been doing the same thing as me all along!"

I smiled inwardly and said nothing.

"Can you imagine?" he continued, "there is probably a poor plate or saucer which feels unloved because it has not been used for ages. I put it on top and she moved it to the bottom of the stack again!"

"But ... but ... it is only a plate," I stammered, "it does not have feelings and it does not think like you and I" (Certainly not like you and your wife; I thought silently).

"And what is worse," he said, "when I saw my wife moving the plates up and down she accidentally dropped one and it smashed into pieces. Dead in the prime of life. We'd only just bought that set."

As delicately as I could, I said, "Look John ... this is some kind of OCD that you both have ... you should discuss it with a doctor."

"OCD?" he asked.

"Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. It's when people do something repeatedly, like over-cleaning or washing!" I explained.

"Tell me about it," he said, "she is so cleaning mad you'll not believe it. The other day we had an argument and in the heat of the moment she threw a cup at me from a distance. She did not want to pick up the broken pieces so she put the cup in a plastic bag first, tied it up, and threw it at me. That way all the pieces were in the bag! Then she cried over the death of a cup."

I was at a loss for words because I did not have my dictionary with me. I bought him another pint and made my way home.

I took a taxi because my shoes were too tired to walk all that way back.

Sunday, 13 June 2021

Simple Faith

 

Four minutes recording.

 

Saturday, 12 June 2021

My new car

I've got a brand new car and I'm very proud of it.

It's an AUTOMATIC. I've always had manual cars before; you know, with a stick showing numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and so on. This is my first AUTOMATIC and I've had it for three days. It has only two pedals. One for the engine to go Vrooom Vrooom and the other to stop the car.

I found something peculiar about this car. In the morning I put the little handle next to the seat in position D for Day and the car runs properly. It's a joy to drive.

When it gets dark I put the handle in position N for Night and the car refuses to move. No matter how hard I press the pedal for the car to move, the engine screams Vrooooom Vrooooom but it does not move an inch.

Just this morning something terrible happened. I was late for a meeting so I put the handle in position R so that the car would Run fast but it went backwards and hit the car behind me.

MORAL OF THIS STORY

It is easy to wave our hands in the air and Praise God and shout "Yay" in the Daytime of our lives when all is well and life is wonderful.

But in the Darktimes of our lives, when things go wrong for us and are terrible, we can so easily stop our praises and fall into the darkness of doubts, fears and unnecessary worries, and feel abandoned by our loving God.

And at such Darktimes we can even reverse back into temptations and sin because we can no longer see God's loving care which is only just a prayer away. If we trust Him.
 

Friday, 11 June 2021

How do you pray?

 

How do you pray? 

Do you pray sitting down on a chair? Lying down in bed? On your knees beside the bed, or in front of a Crucifix or a statue? Do you pray as you go out for a walk? Or at your desk whilst working, or blogging, or when you're knitting or doing household chores? Or when out in the garden?

How do you pray?

Do you repeat prayers you learnt when young? The Our Father perhaps? Or other prayers like the Hail Mary, the Magnificat? The Credo, The Rosary or whatever else you have been encouraged to pray?

Do you ask God for help and favours? Do you pray for certain people? Auntie Elma, or Gertrude? Or Uncle Jim? Or Cousin This or That? Do you pray for your children and others dear to you?

Do you make deals with God? If You do this for me Lord, I'll light a candle. Or I will not drink or smoke or ... for a certain period.

How do you pray?

Or more to the point. How should you pray? What does God expect of us in prayers?

I'm no expert on this, but I guess that as a loving Father, God expects us to talk to Him. How many of you have longed and wondered how long it will be before your children phone you, or write to you, or text you even? Just a short text to say "Hello!" That's all you want.

I guess God wants the same. A quick "Good Morning" when you wake up to welcome Him in your life as you welcome a new day. A "Good Night" when you go to sleep.

He likes to hear how you're getting on in life. He knows of course how you're getting on; but it is nice to tell Him all the same. It's a good conversation starter. Tell Him and thank Him for the good things that are happening to you. We often forget to thank Him. 

Let Him know when things are not going so smoothly; or are going really bad for you. That's exactly what you did as a child when you got hurt and went crying to your Mom or Dad.

Let God, your Heavenly Father, know that things are not going so well. Ask Him for help. Do not tell Him what to do; but trust Him that He will do what is best for you. When you were a child you did not go running to your parents telling them what to do. You were hurt. You cried. They knew what to do and did their best for you. So will God. In His time and in His way He will do what is good for you. Just trust Him. As you trusted your parents.

It is OK ... sometimes ... to get angry and upset with God. To tell it as it is. He can take our tantrums. After all, He took all our anger when hanging on the Cross. He'd rather we are honest in our prayers and say how we feel. To tell Him we are at our wit's end. We don't know what else to do and our very faith and trust are being tested. 

He'll understand our cry for help. And He will respond. Just as He responded in times of old, and when Jesus walked this earth and helped many people in need. He will respond as He responded over the years and will continue to do so for ever.

He will respond with love. With care. With compassion and pity. And also with understanding.

Life can be hard at times ... or often. I seem to be always asking God for something or another. Either for me or for some family member or friend or acquaintance or even you my readers.

I'm always asking God for something.

If I were God I would probably give up on me.

Thank God I am not.

Thursday, 10 June 2021

How was I to know?

 

Something strange happened last winter. One day I noticed that the hamster was not moving. He was there in the corner of his cage, lying in a ball shape, not moving at all. I thought he was dead.

So I took him to a taxidermist friend of mine and got him stuffed.

How was I to know it was hibernating? I mean ... hamsters don't come with a warning saying likely to hibernate in winter.

I got him stuffed and put on the mantelpiece as a permanent reminder of the fun we had with him playing golf. He so enjoyed running miles ahead to fetch the ball when it went in the rough. 

Anyway, come summer a few days ago, he suddenly woke up. His first thoughts were, "I feel stuffed. Must have eaten too much before going to sleep!"

Let that be a reminder to all of us not to eat so much before bedtime!

 *******

Come on folks! This is a joke. It did not really happen. Apart from the taxidermist bit, that is!